A former soldier suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and “night terrors” viciously beat a stranger in the street – his fourth attack on an innocent person since leaving the armed forces.
Jonathon Dowle’s victim was left with a broken nose, multiple facial fractures and bleeding on the brain following the assault in Carmarthen town centre.
Dowle’s previous victims include a 71-year-old woman who he attacked as she was pruning the shrubs in her garden.
Swansea Crown Court heard 28-year-old Dowle had spent 10 years in Army, and completed two tours of Afghanistan.
On one of the tours he saw his best friend killed by a suicide bomber.
Ian Wright, prosecuting, said on the night of December 23 last year the defendant and a friend were drinking in the Dog and Piano pub in Carmarthen town centre.
At around 1.30am the following morning they left the premises, and encountered two men who were eating food in a nearby doorway.
The court heard “some sort of discussion” took place between the four men leading to pushing and shoving.
Dowle then lashed out, repeatedly punching one of strangers in the face. The victim fell to the floor, where Dowle continued to punch him.
An hour later police spotted the defendant in nearby St Catherine Street – he ran-off but was caught by officers.
Dowle, of Picton Place, Carmarthen , pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared in the dock.
The court heard Dowle has three previous convictions for violence on his record.
The first relates to an incident in August 2013 in a garden of a house in St Non’s Avenue, Carmarthen, when the defendant pushed a 71-year-old woman to the ground and knelt on her chest
When a neighbour went to the pensioner’s aid, the defendant bit him.
Then in 2015 in Leominster, Herefordshire, Dowle reached through the open window of a car and punched the passenger in the face.
Police were called and he was chased on foot by officers, and eventually Tasered – he removed the stun-gun barbs from his chest and tried to get away.
Later that same year he approached a man in Club XL in Bath and punched him several times in the face.
He was given community orders for each of these offences.
The court heard Dowle had subsequently been diagnosed with “moderate” post traumatic stress disorder.
Carina Hughes, for Dowle, said her client wished her to publicly apologise for this actions on Christmas Eve.
She said the defendant had spent 10 years the Army , including two tours of Afghanistan – during one of the tours he had seen his best friend killed by a suicide bomber, and had been left to deal with the body.
The barrister said Dowle suffers with “night terrors” and screams out in the night as a result of the things he saw and experienced.
She said: “The person he was at 16 when he joined the Army is not the person he is now.”
She added that the defendant, who now works erecting telephone poles, recognised he needed professional help to tackle his psychological problems, something he previous
Judge Geraint Walters said the courts had been “remarkable lenient” in sentencing him for his previous violence offences.
He said having read the probation and psychiatric reports on Dowle, he was persuaded it would be in the public interest for the defendant to get the help he needed rather than to serve a prison sentence – which would also mean the loss of his job – and therefore he was prepared to take the “truly exceptional” course of departing from the sentencing guidelines and giving him a suspended sentence.
He said the starting point for sentence after trial would have been 18 months prison – because of the defendant’s previous convictions, that would be increased to 20 months.
But giving Dowle a 25% discount for his guilty plea he brought the sentence down to 15 months, and suspended it for two years.
The judge also made Dowle subject to an intensive rehabilitation course, and a 7pm to 6am curfew for six months.